A/N: I hope this doesn't sound terrible to say, but omg, I really, really love this fic. I'm proud of it, I like the way it went, there's only a few spots I feel are off, and fs;kaj I really hope you guys like it. Also, not mine. Sorry to all you guys who have my stuff on alert, lol, I must be abusing your inbox fairly badly.

"Look sharp," Roxas says, meeting Sora's pretty blue eyes that are only a shade darker than his own. As if his words were more than a request, or a gentle tease, Sora straightens up, draws his shoulders in tight, and tries to hide the boyishness that lurks under his skin. When their fingers touch, Roxas sinks inside and almost loses himself. He doesn't wake up for forever, it seems.

Riku's drawing pictures in the sand, holding a big stick and aimlessly wandering as he draws, while Kairi lays out on a beach towel and Sora builds himself a sandcastle (badly, at that, but as long as there's a moat, then it doesn't matter, right?). It's another quiet day, filled only by the screams of the gulls above them and the rushing hiss of the ocean.

(It was nothing like Twilight Town. Nothing at all-

-and a building crumbles slowly, gold melting down into dust.)

He adds a bigger moat around the castle, tongue between his teeth and at the corner of his mouth as he works. Parts and pieces of it fall off, the heat of the sun ridding the clumped sand of the dampness, and Sora sighs heavily. He really sucks at this, he thinks. There's probably an art to building a sandcastle and he just can't make it work.

"This sucks," he says, poking at one of the towers and cursing when it wobbles and collapses in a thousand tiny clumps of sand. Kairi looks over, pushing up her sunglasses and laughing quietly at the pout of the brunet as he toes the sand. "Seriously, it shouldn't be this hard."

(They never made sand castles in Twilight Town. The beaches they had were made of hard rocks that cut their feet and it just wasn't-

-the streets are slowly cracking, grass and vines and weeds growing between the cracks and making them bigger.)

It's a festival, Sora thinks, watching Riku dig through his closet from where he's sprawled out on the other boy's bed. It's a stupid festival and Riku's acting like it's a fashion show and- "…When did you start acting like such a girl?" he teases, smothering a yawn and grins at the dark look Riku sends him. "Oh, I know when!" He rolls over, laughing loudly when a pillow hits him in the back. "It's when you started going out with Kai-ri. Gotta look just as pretty as her, dontcha?"

Riku throws him a poisonous look. "You're just jealous," he says snidely, and ignores Sora's loud cackles.

(They didn't have festivals in Twilight Town. They had street vendors and magicians and gypsies and circuses-

-another building falls, rubble echoing through the town, the reverberations making bits and pieces of other walls start to fall.)

"You really probably are," Riku says again, his voice lofty, and then goes back to shuffling through his closet. Sora knows without looking that the expression on Riku's face is one of intense concentration; he really, really likes Kairi, even if he won't say it, and always ends up like this as he searches for clothes. "You are coming with us, right?"

Sora rolls over, taking the pillow with him and resting his head on it, watching Riku. "Do you really want me to? It's a two-day thing. I thought that this was a date for you and Kairi, not a 'let's pity the Single Wonderboy.'" And he's not jealous of the two of them. He's more than happy for them, in fact. Kairi is perfect for him, just like he was for the princess. Sora had seen it ages ago, and it had only taken a few pushes (and a closet; he thought the plan was pure genius, really) for them to realize it.

Settling on an outfit, Riku examines it carefully and then holds it up for his best friend. "Any comments on me being girly and I'll Keyblade you in the head," he mutters, already knowing there is a huge grin on the other boy's face. "Yes or no."

He's absolutely, positively too pleased and proud for words to see the way that Riku is acting. Gone is the shadow of the boy he once knew, and left behind is the older, stronger (he won't say better, because it's Riku and Riku's fine any way that he is) and more sure of himself person. It took a year for it to happen, coupled with coaxing and trust, but he's better for it, and Sora can see it in the way that Riku holds himself now. "Yes," he says, not really sure if he's agreeing to the outfit, or if it's just a general yes to the fact that things are okay now. He's not sure if it matters.

(There weren't any very "romantic" places in Twilight Town. The place where one could watch the sunset was mildly so, but there weren't any very truly romantic places to go-

-it's storming hard, the water lapping, eating at the cliffside walls, and bit by bit the rock falls into the water, the bridge where the train runs collapsing next.)

They meet in front of Kairi's house, and even from there they can see the bright lights of the fair; if they squint, they can see the high rise of the Ferris wheel spinning. Kairi looks gorgeous, Sora admits, taking in the sight of the pale blue and white dress she's wearing. It flares out slightly at the bottom, long enough where it's not indecent, but still short enough where Sora elbows Riku in the side to jerk him out of his stunned silence, knowing that he's staring at the way her body seems thin and graceful. She looks every part the Princess.

Riku doesn't look bad himself, either. He's taken to tying his hair back so it doesn't get in his face (he won't cut it, no matter how much his aunt threatens to do so when he's sleeping-- she hasn't yet, so he keeps it long). He has a simple black shirt on, and a light not-quite-fancy-but-still-dressy jacket that he'd bought when he and Kairi first started going out.

Sora rolls his eyes, knowing Riku's utterly useless sometimes when it comes to these things. He steps forward and sweeps a dramatic bow, taking her hand and pressing a kiss to her knuckles. "My lady, please forgive Sir Tactless over there. He was utterly stunned by your overwhelming beauty and forgot his manners."

She grins at him and takes his arm, shoulders straight and a fake, haughty look on her face as they make their way down the stairs to stand before him. "Oh, please do forgive him, King Sora," she purrs, cuddling to his side and watching Riku roll his eyes.

The final straw is Sora wrapping an arm around her bare shoulders and waggling his eyebrows at her. "Well then, milady, what about you and I just leaving Sir Tactless over here a-"

"And that's quite enough," Riku cuts in, poking the boy in the side and ghosting his fingers across Kairi's cheek to tuck stray curls behind her ear. He's a little flushed with embarrassment; she smiles up at him and reaches up to take his hand, intertwining their fingers. Sora swaggers ahead, blatantly ignoring the couple but walking slow enough where they can still catch up. "Sorry. Not too good with the whole-"

The Princess laughs quietly, not mocking him but in the soft, gentle way that makes him relax a little. "You're fine. Sora just likes to tease you 'cause he can." She places a hand over his heart and he drops a kiss on top of her head. "You look very handsome."

"You do too. Not. Well. Not handsome, but- pretty and…" He pauses when she stands up on the tips of her toes and presses a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth, smiling.

"Oh my god, you two. Come on, it'll be all over by the time you two stop making eyes at each other." Sora hollers from a few yards away, and the two smile a little at each other, breaking apart but their fingers were still linked together.

(Twilight Town didn't have the same feel as the Islands. People there always kept to themselves a little bit more, unlike the Islands where everyone knows everyone else and gossip runs free. The air tasted different too; it lacked the salty taste of Destiny Islands-

-and now it tastes like nothing.)

Sora feels a little like a third wheel as he walks down the road with them, taking in the sights and smells of the festival. Off to the side there's a vendor selling sushi (his mom makes the best sushi ever, so he doesn't go there), but next to that there's a smoothie stand, and he's not really hungry, but he does want to give them alone time. They're making an attempt to include him with everything, and it feels like how it normally is when they hang out, but they deserve this time together. He taps Riku on the shoulder and mouths "have fun," and a grateful look flashes over the other boy's face.

The couple head off to the games while Sora himself just aimlessly wanders. He buys the smoothie (forty-five munny for a smoothie?) and is sipping on it in pure boredom when he spies a sign that looks mildly interesting. "Creatures From All The Islands. Beasts of All Shapes And Sizes! Be Afraid, Be Astounded!" Sora rolls his eyes, because really, once you've seen a huge octopus-lady oozing ink and trying to kill you, the monsters on Destiny Islands seem like puppies and kittens.

He goes in anyway.

(Twilight Town didn't have any unique animals. Dogs and cats ran about freely, and there were a few people who raised birds and reptiles, but nothing special because-

-the Usual Spot slowly falls apart, decorations hanging off the walls and dropping to the ground, dust covering the ground and pieces of the roof collapsed in.)

He comes out fifty munny poorer, but he knows that he can survive for probably the rest of his life with just a part time job due to all the munny he made from killing Heartless. He does have to be careful with how he spends it and how people know he got it. He got a job when he returned home, puts most of his paycheck in his bank, adding a little bit more of the munny he hides in a drawer.

It's a little odd to think that he could probably buy the island they live on, but he won't ever tell them. It's too much trouble- it would be too hard to explain, too. So, bit by bit, he puts more and more munny into his bank and is vastly amused when his parents praise him on how well he saves his money like a responsible, mature adult. (Riku and Kairi constantly take him down a peg, just to keep it even; they took great pleasure in the fact.)

Briefly, he debates on trying some of the random little money-sucking games that are set up around the streets, but decides against it to go looking for the rides. None of them look particularly frightening or interesting; Wonderland and its oddities, Deep Jungle, and Beast's Castle, among other places, had rid him of any lingering fear of rides. Cheeks puffing out with annoyance, he tries to think of what to do and briefly debates on simply leaving the two to their 'not-date' which really was a date even if they wouldn't admit it.

Sora sees silver hair over by one of the game stalls so he goes over there, curious to see what they're doing and wanting to explain if he's leaving. Kairi greets him with a grin, Riku with a nod and she pays ten munny to try and win a fish of all things. Neither of the boys asks why she wants to, they just watch her concentrate and toss one of the balls. It bounces off the rim and she sighs.

There's four more left; she throws another one and it misses again. Sora leans against the railing, one hand resting on the worn wood of the stand, and Riku glances over at the feel of magic crackling in the air. A small smile and Sora casts a small dose Aero, righting the ball and sending it into the hole with a hollow noise, both boys congratulating her. The man running the stand says she's the first winner that night, and teases Riku that if he can do the same like his girl (Riku's cheeks burn slightly at the comment and Kairi smiles hesitantly; Sora thinks they're both kind of stupid), she can take one of the stuffed animals home too if she likes.

"Gonna let yourself be outdone by a girl, Ri-ku?" Sora teases, sticking his tongue out. "I don't think you can do it."

Riku can't resist a challenge- all of them know that, so he takes the five balls and aims carefully. A smile curls Sora's lips as he points one finger, sending the first ball just off when he knew it would have hit dead center. From the look on Riku's face as he glances over, Riku knows what he did too. A second ball, and Sora does it again. A third and then a fourth (Riku stretches up and stomps on Sora's foot subtly) and for the fifth, Sora casts again and the ball falls in.

They walk away from the stand with Riku holding a black and white stuffed bear and Kairi holding a glass bowl with a blue-green fish swimming in it. Sora pokes at the bowl curiously. "He's pretty cool looking. Kinda the color of Riku's eyes." He glances up and then grins. "Hey, Riku. You've got fish-colored eyes. That's attractive."

Kairi laughs, holding the bowl carefully and shivering a little. It's nearly midnight and chilly- her dress is pretty but none of them expected to stay out so long. Subtly, Sora nudges Riku and is a little proud when the other teen knows exactly what he means. Taking the stuffed animal, he holds it while Riku shrugs off his jacket and drapes it over Kairi's slender shoulders. The smile she sends the older boy makes Sora grin like a dork and Riku turn his attention elsewhere, cheeks warm.

It takes him a second to realize that he's missed them. He gave them as much space as he could, not realizing that when he did that it meant that he was withdrawing from them at the same time. Crossing his arms, he watches the two of them walk closely together, Kairi looking comfortable with Riku's jacket around her shoulders and Riku with a content look on his face.

"I'm happy for you guys," he says for not the first or last time. "Really."

Kairi smiles warmly, still holding her fishbowl carefully, and she glances over at him. "I just don't want you to feel alone. At least you have Roxas, right, even if you don't talk about him much? I know Naminé's kept me company so many times when I was bored out of my mind."

Pausing, Sora fights down the sick feeling that something's wrong. Riku notices first, turning around and watching the other boy carefully, his face carefully blank. The redhead turns as well, and at seeing Sora's face, she freezes. "…Sora. What happened to Roxas?" He goes pale under his tan, and it's only because of Riku's quick reflexes that the fishbowl doesn't hit the ground and shatter as Naminé shifts forward, looking scared and fragile. "Sora-- what- Roxas- he's not…"

Sora's breath is shaky now (he didn't know they could do that, he thinks a little desperately) as he tries to figure out why he didn't notice, why he wasn't able to know that something was wrong. How did he not know that Roxas was supposed to be there or- "I…I thought that he was supposed to- he's the other half of my heart, I didn't know that-"

Naminé grips his forearm hard. "Sora, please, you have to see if he's there." Sora swallows hard, a little desperate, a lot scared and her hand tightens, nails digging into his skin. "Please. He wouldn't just fade back- he promised that-"

He can't resist her, can't say no to her, Kairi or Riku and they all know that. Their strength is his weakness sometimes, but he loves them for it- because of it. He closes his eyes and tries to sink into his own head, tries to find some thread, some sign, just tries to find Roxas. His heart has never been so complicated, he thinks, and loses himself in his search.

Riku finds that his heart seems to skip a beat at the way Sora's eyes go blank, and how the life seems to drain out of him all emptybrokendoll (just like Kairi was.) Kairi catches him just in time, sliding his arm around her shoulder as he sags like a marionette whose strings have been cut.

The toy that Riku won slips to the ground along with the jacket that had been covering Kairi's shoulders, covered in sand but neither of them care anymore. He sets the fishbowl on the ground and reaches over to take the brunet, supporting him easily while Kairi picks up his jacket and dusts it off, putting it on and picking the fishbowl back up. As an afterthought she grabs the toy as well, sticking it under her arm. "We can't take him to any of our houses. Where?" she asks, ignores his dry look while trying to think of a place where they can go that other people won't find them. Then, her violet eyes light up as she realizes a place. "The old shack- it's not too far from here. No one ever goes in there either."

He nods but doesn't say anything, instead he picks the smaller boy up and carries him carefully; Sora's deathly still in his arms and he wants nothing more than to shake the other boy awake but knows that will do no good at all. They get to the shack in a few minutes, Kairi brushing aside the dust and setting the toy on the ground so Sora can use it as an impromptu pillow. Riku lays him down, brushes brunet strands back from his face and sighs heavily.

"Is this our fault?" he asks, sitting down on the ground with his back against the wall of the shack. Kairi doesn't respond right away, simply crawling over to him and curling up in his arms, tucking her face into his neck. "Roxas, I mean."

She draws in a shaky breath and tangles her fingers in his shirt, his arms drawing around her. She's getting her new dress dirty, but it doesn't occur to her; she's more worried about the unconscious boy and his Nobody. "I don't know," she answers, curling her feet under her and pressing a gentle kiss to his collarbone. "I really don't. I'm so worried."

Reaching up, he brushes his fingers through her hair and looks away from the boy. "Roxas will be fine," he assures, holding her gently. He's lying, maybe, but he doesn't know for sure. He won't say anything other than that, however, because part of him thinks that maybe if they don't say it, it won't be true. A slightly juvenile way of thinking maybe, but he respects Roxas enough for him to not want the blond to simply fade into nothing without a choice.

Sora chokes, falls to his knees and covers his mouth to keep from retching and losing his food from the festival. He is surrounded by Darkness, the tendrils of it circling around him, sliding against his skin and wrap around him like a suffocating blanket. His fingers dig into the ground (but he isn't really standing on the 'ground') and it occurs to him that this is his heart and his heart is stronger than this. Scowling, he stands up shakily, summons the Keyblade, and uses it to light his way, slicing through the darkness with annoyance.

"Roxas?" he calls, walking and walking and walking. Distantly, he can see a light far away; he speeds up, bolting for the end and oh-so-glad that he has the ability to quick run. He runs all the way to it and then, with a curse, falls what feels like forever and lands flat on his back in the middle of a street, the wind knocked out of him. Sora sighs softly, picking himself up and begins to walk. It's just barely dawn, or it's heavy evening- he can't quite tell, really. He's never been one to tell exactly the direction he goes; he just follows his heart- so far it hasn't lead him wrong.

The town he's walking through, however, makes him tingle, makes his fingers itch for the Keyblade. It's a mess, it's a wreck and it's so familiar that his heart hurts because he can't think of where he is. It's a ghost town here; the buildings are crumbled and wasted. The streets are broken; glass litters the ground, crunching under his footsteps as he goes, and when he looks up, he sees something that makes his heart speed up with a hint of fear. "Roxas!" he yells, now. "Roxas? Where are you?"

The clock tower of Twilight Town is half gone; only the ruins of it remain casting shadows and making Sora run as fast as he can to find the other boy. If he was the other boy (which he really kind of was, but that was beside the point) where would he be? In the ruins of his home, where would he disappear to?

The answer hits him a second later- The Usual Spot. Pence, Hayner and Olette always stuck around there and when Roxas had lived in the fake Twilight Town, he had stayed with them there. Swallowing hard, Sora takes off, glass crunching under his feet and breath coming in harsh pants as he goes. Through the broken buildings, he can see pure darkness as if the world split in half- and with a stumble, he realizes that it's The World That Never Was that's there, swallowing up Twilight Town. "Roxas!"

He tears into the alleyway, skidding on the rubble and pushes the chain-link fence out of the way, peeking into the room. Roxas is there, curled up on the couch with his head in Anti-Sora's lap. "Roxas…?" Sora whispers, taking a shaky step forward and watching Anti-Sora stroke his fingers through wispy blond hair. His shadow laughs, his voice rough and the noise fake. "Let him go!"

"Oh, oh, oh, Roxas," Anti-Sora breathes, fingers trailing across fair skin. "Oh, haven't you stopped creating these people? You must be going crazy, little Prince."

Sora summons Fenrir and Ultima, both Keyblades snapping into existence in his hands. "Roxas, don't listen to him. This isn't real; you're not really here. Look at me."

Roxas looks up, his hand clenching tighter around something and he closes his eyes again leaving Anti-Sora to snicker. "We're trying to protect you, little Prince," he purrs, tucking a few blond strands of hair behind Roxas' ear. "Didn't we save you before? Didn't we get rid of those awful hallucinations of those people? Remember Axel and how he tried to hurt you? Didn't we save you from him, little one?"

Still silent, the blond curled up a little more and Sora swallows the urge to yell at his shadow. "Still sore over Axel, precious?" He places a hand over Roxas' own, uncurling the boy's fingers and revealing to Sora what was in the palm of his hand. Blood slides down pale fingers, drips onto the floor and when Sora squinted, he realized what Roxas holds. It was the Keychain that Axel had given to Sora just before he died, broken into a few sharp pieces, digging into his palm and cutting into his skin. "I know you miss him. He was hurting you though, lovely one. We couldn't let him hurt you anymore."

Sora's hands shake, nearly invisibly but the tremor is there. The blond still said nothing, his fingers curling around the charm once more. "A year of this," Sora whispers, guilt choking him and he glances around the room realizing what some of the rubble was. On the ground, he can see the glass baubles that come from the Struggle trophy, broken into tiny fragments. Pence's headband is ripped clean in half, a ragged heap on the ground. Hayner's prized Struggle bat is battered and broken. Off to the side he can see Seifer's hat, in tatters in the corner. Sketches are ripped and torn in various places. A charm with a paopu fruit lay on the ground, the shells that made it up crushed and barely held together. Just a few feet away from the old couch was a thick piece of leather- a blindfold. "Roxas, no." His attention turned to the shadow. "You killed them all."

"What?" Anti-Sora breathes, golden eyes going wide with pseudo-shock before his face melts into a wicked, sharp grin. Clawed hands draw Roxas up against him, holding him in the circle of his arms, and he presses a kiss to the top of the blond head. "They weren't alive though. They were hallucinations just like you. Roxy was going crazy." He slips one hand under Roxas' shirt, splaying over the boy's stomach while his other hand works on the zipper and pulls it down slowly baring inches of pale skin. "We fixed you up, beautiful. We made you better. We take care of you, Roxy."

Sick to his stomach and wishing that he could just drag Roxas out of this nightmare, Sora takes a shaky step forward and chokes as an arm curls around his neck, cutting off his air abruptly. "R-Rox…" he coughed, struggling against the arm and watching as Roxas' eyes opened, half-lidded as Anti-Sora ghosted his hands over his skin, palms sliding over the boy's nipples, mouthing at his shoulder. Angling his Keyblade back, Sora shifts, stabbing into whatever was holding him and scrambles away, turning his back on his Other and his Shadow and focusing on the wickedly grinning form of Roxas. "Roxas- I'm not fake! I'm real. You have to snap out of it--"

Roxas' Shadow laughs, vanishing into the ground and then coming up in front of him, one hand wrapped around his throat. "Shall I kill him, lovely?" he asks Roxas before throwing Sora into a wall and ignoring any answer that he might get. "Later, of course. I wish to toy with him first."

Sora growls out a curse and runs forward, swinging Ultima in a wide arc and freezing when the Shadow simply vanishes. 'Fine.' He turns to Roxas and tries get closer, reaching out and keeping an eye around them. "Roxas, please. I'm real. I don't know how to prove it to you, but I am. Don't listen to them," he glares at Anti-Sora, watches as his double slid his one hand down until his fingertips skim just under Roxas' pants promisingly. "Roxas- this isn't real- this is inside our head, it's-"

Roxas' Shadow grabs his wrists, jerking his hands behind his back and forcing him to drop his Keyblades. Taken by surprise, Sora tries to jerk forward, cursing and pulled tight against the other. "Even if you were real," the Shadow purred, licking his throat gently and meeting Anti-Sora's bright gold eyes as he does it. "We wouldn't let you hurt our lovely one. You can't do that- we protect him. Don't cheat now."

"Why are you doing this to him?" Sora finally breathes, shoulders slumping and jaw tightening when Roxas' breath hitches as Anti-Sora's fingers trail over a sensitive part. "Roxas--"

"To get to you, of course," Anti-Roxas bites his earlobe and huffs a laugh against his skin, his voice just barely loud enough for Sora to hear. "It's all for you. We don't need a weak heart like you or him. Break him down with those stupid little friends he had and we can do the same to you. Take down one and then the next and-"

That's it, Sora realizes with a start, sinking into Anti-Roxas' grip with a pathetic little sigh, playing the part of the defeated soldier as best as he can. "Just let him go," he pleads and lets desperation rise in his eyes. "It's been a year of this- you have what you want- me." For a moment he thinks it won't work. Anti-Sora knows the darkest parts of his heart- he is the darkest part of his heart, but it does. He lets fear dance on his expression as he looks up at his Shadow and then jerks his attention down at the ground. Anti-Sora takes the bait with a rasping laugh.

"Bring him here." Anti-Sora laughs, and Sora's pushed to his darker self, still staring at the ground. Roxas is still sitting there, pretty and half-naked, his eyes dark as he watches. "Are you scared of me?" he asks, pulling Sora forward by his belts and sliding his hands back just a little too far. "You've had nightmares of me before. I created them. What would you do, I wonder—actually, what would they do, if you stole someone's heart. What about that girl, Kairi? Her heart is so bright; the other boy is in love with her, you know. It would destroy him if-"

Sora sinks to his knees and this time the pain in his eyes was real. Briefly he wonders if it's too much, if he's being too dramatic, but from the rich laugh that pours from Anti-Sora's lips, it's not. "Oh, how the mighty have fallen," he croons, petting Sora gently, black fingers tangling in spiky brown hair. "You're just as pretty as him, I think. I'll keep you here as well, locked in a pretty little cage like a pretty little bird." Raising a hand, he pulls the shards of glass that litter the floor together, forming something that makes Sora freeze and swallow hard. "This should be your cage, I think."

Jerking back, he just tries to touch Roxas, knowing that his Shadow is more than aware of his need for touch as comfort, which is why he is allowed to get away with it. It's a surprise when Roxas doesn't resist; he goes with him and curls against Sora's body, still holding Axel's charm. "You can't," Sora manages, slipping Roxas' fingers between his own and pressing their palms together. Blood slicks his hand but quickly, he changes it, summoning the charm he carries with him, the unbroken one. The blond's fingers tighten just a little and Sora realizes that Roxas has been waiting. He's been waiting for Sora to know, to realize that he was trapped there, and he was just too caught up in his own life to realize. I'm sorry, he wants so very badly to say. I'm so sorry it took me so long.

His old prison parts like a flower and Anti-Sora snickers, arching his back and watching the boys together. "Oh, oh, oh, but I can," he laughs, waving his hand to dismiss the notion of him not being able to do anything. "Roxas is nothing more than a doll anymore- we've taken the fight from him so much all he does is sit here. Pretty broken marionette, that's all he is."

Roxas' Shadow slides behind them, draping his arms around Sora's shoulders and pressing bites to his throat. "We can take the fight from you too, just like we did him. It took a while, yes. But we can do it." He presses close and Sora stiffens and his eyes are wide as he tries to pull away, tries to shield Roxas at the same time. "We can break you."

"You can't, not ever." Sora says, and his voice is as strong as he can make it. Leaning over, he presses his forehead to Roxas and grips his hand tightly. Roxas' eyes are clearer now and it's an unspoken plan that goes through both of them. "You can try all you like, but you won't ever be able to."

Anti-Sora realizes the attack too slowly; Sora casts Stop and Roxas is already jerking back and spinning around, Keyblade deep in the Heartless' chest. The brunet slices right through Roxas' Heartless, around the waist and the creature vanishing with a hiss leaving his own personal demon to face. "Roxas," Sora says softly, grabbing the boy's hand and holding it tightly. In Roxas' other hand is Bond of Flame, shining brightly and making Anti-Sora cringe back. "This is for thinking you could manipulate us. For using Roxas. For keeping him locked up."

Cornflower blue eyes regard Sora with surprise at the venom and anger in his voice. Roxas' fingers curl around Sora's a little more and without a word, Roxas' Keyblade sliced clean through Anti-Sora's throat while Sora's went through his chest. And just like that, it was over; Sora's Darkness melting away into thin air, while Sora himself draws in a shaky breath. "Roxas?" he asks hesitantly, dismisses Ultima and simply sweeping his Other into a rough hug. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

Biting his lip, Roxas shakes his head and lets go of Bond of Flame, hesitantly hugging back. "Don't," he says; it's all he can say. He's exhausted, both mentally, physically and emotionally and wants nothing more than to just sleep for years. "Don't, Sora."

Shivering, Sora lifts his head up and focuses on ridding their mind of this place, replacing it with the Islands. The sharp tang of salt in the air makes him a little more relaxed and coupled with the way that Roxas sinks against him with a sigh, he thinks things might be okay. Carefully, he directs them to the ground, still cradling Roxas in his arms until he's sitting on the beach with Roxas sitting between his legs, head on his shoulder. Without a word, Roxas slips his arms around the brunet's waist and simply sits there, listening to the hiss of the waves on the shore. "I'm so sorry." He slides the pads of his fingers through wispy blond hair and rubs hesitant circles on the boy's back, guilt choking him. "I didn't realize- I thought that-"

"It's over now," Roxas breathes, not quite sure he likes how utterly relaxed he is around his Somebody. It's not like him to let his guard down, but after this he wants nothing more. "It's okay."

"It's not, but I'll leave it alone." Sora laughs a bit, the noise drowned out in the rush of the wind and the hiss of the waves, but it makes Roxas' own lips curl slightly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to forget about you-- I didn't; I thought that Nobodies- I just. Yeah."

The blond sits up a little bit, just enough so they're sitting eye-level and holds Sora's gaze easily. "Stop it," he says firmly, and watches Sora deflate, pursing his lips with a little bit of irritation. "We beat them, didn't we? It's over. The Darkness inside of you is gone, save for m-"

"Don't say it," Sora warns and impulsively presses their lips together, smothering anything else that Roxas might have said in a kiss. There's a connection between them; something that's always been there, but after this, Sora feels it just as much as Roxas now. That's why he does it, the brunet thinks, tangling one hand in Roxas' hair. The kiss isn't anything spectacular, it isn't talented, and it doesn't make his veins flood with fire or any of that stuff he'd heard. It is soft, hesitant, and Roxas pulls back after a moment, resting his forehead on Sora's shoulder and holding him loosely. "We're okay now."


Sora wakes up to the nighttime chill in the air that comes when it's very, very late. He's stiff and sore, fingers curled so tightly that it hurts to unclench them but he does anyway, a soft noise of pain escaping him as blood rushes to numb parts of his body. Head aching and mouth dry, he slowly rolls over and tries to push himself up, opening his eyes halfway and jumping when a large, cool hand rests on the small of his back. For a brief moment he thinks that he's back inside his head and that Roxas is all broken and dead inside on the couch, with his shadow behind him.

"Easy, Sora," Kairi murmurs from off to the side, sliding over and touching his shoulder oh-so-gently, sliding the hand up and cupping his cheek, turning his head to the side. "Sora, look at me."

"I am," he rasps, pushing himself up so he's kneeling, the steadying hand sliding a little more so it's around his waist to keep him from slumping over. "He's. He's here."

Kairi's face lights up at that, the tension sinking out of her body, and she throws her arms around the brunet boy; there's a yellow tint to her hair now. "Good," she breathes, shuddering as a ragged breath escaped her. "Sora…"

He sinks against her, Roxas inside his mind and Sora just kisses her shoulder, breathless and shaky as Riku wraps an arm around his waist. "Naminé…" he breathes, and it takes a second to realize that it wasn't him that said that; it was Roxas, unconsciously doing it. 'Sorry. I didn't. I'm not-'

Sora doesn't respond verbally, instead he shifts Roxas forward and isn't quite prepared for the shock of pain that follows as bones shift, his (their) body rearranging slightly into Roxas' own. "I'm fine," he shifts up a little, exhausted beyond all reason but needing to be free, even if it's just for a little while. He meets Naminé's eyes, watches her let out a soft, shaky breath and then she presses close to him again. Distantly, in the back of his head, he's uncomfortable with all of the touching; Sora's the one who takes comfort in touch, not him. Riku seems to realize this as he sees the blond hair; the older boy draws back and leaves the two of them alone, understanding the Nobody without having to be told anything.

Both boys pull back after a moment, Sora shifting forward with a quiet noise as Roxas sinks back. "I really want to go home," he says quietly, not resisting when Kairi helps him stand up. He's still shaky but otherwise okay, he thinks.

That's it If you favorite/read/liked/disliked/whatever, please drop me a review? It's always lovely to hear from you guys, so yeah. Thanks for reading, hope you liked!